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Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Importance of Branding

I have blogged on the Choose Civility campaign that the Howard County Library has promoted for the past couple of years but today I want to use it as an example of how to brand an organization.  The Library has successfully promote themselves as the "go to" source for any discussion or activity that involves civility through the use of bumper stickers.  Can you imagine a group doing anything on civility and not engaging the Library?  Of course the Library has the advantage of having many residents visiting the libraries to be a source of distribution of the bumper magnets.  For the Library bumper magnets being given away works for them in this branding effort.  So how would you brand an organization that doesn't have the "foot traffic" of the Library?  First just as some background to the concept of branding I want to quote Laura Lake on the topic, 

"The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a "name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.Therefore it makes sense to understand that branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.The objectives that a good brand will achieve include:
  • Delivers the message clearly
  • Confirms your credibility
  • Connects your target prospects emotionally
  • Motivates the buyer
  • Concretes User Loyalty
To succeed in branding you must understand the needs and wants of your customers and prospects. You do this by integrating your brand strategies through your company at every point of public contact.Your brand resides within the hearts and minds of customers, clients, and prospects. It is the sum total of their experiences and perceptions, some of which you can influence, and some that you cannot."
 You want your  organization to be seen as the "go to" source for a service or product.

Branding begins with the name of your organization.  Does it still "fit" what your organization is today or what it wants to be in the future?  This was the case with one Howard County organization years ago when the Developmental Services Group (DSG) recognized that they had outgrown the name and spent a great deal of time and effort in their re-branding to Humanim. Some information from the Blake Project described the name branding this way:
"Brand naming, whether it be corporate, organizational or product names may seem simple, however it is anything but. Generally, for a final brand name that makes it through all of the evaluation hurdles and is accepted by the client, hundreds, if not thousands of names were explored. So, what makes naming so difficult? First, the proliferation of brands in the market. Second, with the advent of the Internet, a brand must compete not just within a small geography, but throughout the global market. Which leads to the next point, the URL needs to be available. And one wants to own “.com,” not “.net,” “.info,” or some other equally obscure URL suffix. And one should not add “company,” “llc,” or other unexpected modifiers to the end of the name. The name should be:
  • Easy to pronounce
  • Easy to spell
  • Not used by any other brand, but especially competitors in the same categories and markets
  • Short
  • Easy to recall
  • Not have unintended or negative meanings, including in other languages/cultures
  • Broad enough to outlive a product category or a business owner
  • Easy to trademark (and still available to trademark)
  • Available as a “.com” or “.org” or .edu” URL, depending on the type of brand
It is also desirable for the brand name to communicate the brand’s unique value proposition if possible. (This is a tall order, so many brands should be happy to rely on the tagline to do that.)"

Finally you want to brand the one aspect of your organization that you want everyone to think of when they think of your organization.  It is a quality of your organization as much as tied directly to the services that you provide.  An example of this is Apple corporation.  Apple chose to brand themselves as "the cool company" or "the cutting edge company."  That brand image stayed relevant as they move from just being a computer company (IMac) to a musical device company (IPod) to a music store (ITunes) to a phone company (IPhone) to a totally new product like the Ipad to a offline software and data storage company (ICloud). Notice the branding use of the "I" in all the new company products? It may have started out to mean internet but with the new products it came to stand for "I" as in personal products.

Any suggestions for re-branding HoCo Connect?

P.S.
There was another example of re-branding in this recent article in Explore Howard County that was also mentioned in HowChow.

1 comment:

Gloria said...

A brand is often the most valuable asset of a Corporation. Brand owners manage their brands carefully to maintain trust for their customers, and brand valuation is an important management technique that describes the value of a brand, and allows marketing investment to be managed.